No two assaults are alike, and Alaska’s criminal code understands that. There is a range of assault crimes on the books ranging from misdemeanor to Class A felony, the highest level of crime in the state.
From the defense perspective, the higher the level of assault you are charged with, the longer jail or prison sentence you face. On the other hand, higher-level charges like Class A assault put a heavier burden of proof on the prosecutor. There is a lot at stake, so it could be helpful to know what sets Class A assault charges apart from the lower-level versions.
What makes Class A assault so serious?
To convict someone of Class A assault, the prosecution must prove that the defendant caused “serious physical injury” to someone else. Serious physical injury means much more than a black eye or bruised ribs. It means the victim suffered an injury that put them at risky of dying, losing a bodily function or becoming disfigured. That is a high level of injury, which is why the penalty for getting convicted for Class A assault includes up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Confronting the charge
Because there are so many types of criminal assault charges, prosecutors sometimes “overcharge” a defendant. This means they charge the person with a more serious crime than they actually committed — if they are guilty of anything at all. If the police charged you with Class A assault, it might be possible to get that reduced to a misdemeanor or lower-level felony. And, depending on the evidence, your defense attorney might be able to get the charge dropped entirely.